December 1979

Front pictures
Passenger Boat cruising season
Picture captions
Social Diary
Working Parties
Canals that Never Were - 4
Social Jottings
The French Connection
The Railway Navvies
Ten Years Ago
Good Evening!
Gongoozlers' Gossip

Contact the Society


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No. 88December 1979

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Inside Front Cover --
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We make no apology for returning to a subject which featured prominently in the last issue of the Newsletter - the Society's appeal for financial support to keep four of the Job Creation supervisors employed full time on the canal's restoration after the end of this year when the current Manpower Services Commission grant expires.

It is not the first time that the Society has been faced with a challenging task which, as in the past, can be met if every member gives some thought to the problem and possible solutions.

Enough has been said about the importance of raising the £30,000 a year needed to keep four supervisors working. The point now is to concentrate our minds and efforts on achieving our aim.

An Appeal Committee has been set up under Derek Truman and Philip Riley, One of the first things the Committee has done is to draw up a list of local firms who will be approached and asked to help, Many leading companies - and a good number are based locally - recognise the need to consider the welfare of their employees not just during working hours but outside too. And we believe that the canal has a great deal to offer as an amenity to the whole community.

Once restored the waterway will probably be the most important and valuable new amenity to have been created for a long time, especially with the ever increasing pressures on existing recreational amenities in the area. What is more, the canal will fulfil a vital need for water space for angling and boating activities for which we have very limited resources in Surrey and Hampshire. And there is the environmental benefit to be gained from re-opening the Basingstoke and making it an attractive navigation once again.

Every member can help, directly or indirectly. For instance, if you work for a large (or even small) local firm, give us the name of the Managing Director or Public Relations Manager to contact. Better still approach the person responsible yourself. One member did this once just by sending a newspaper cutting about the Society to the Personnel Officer, and as a result the Society was asked how we could make use of a £1,000 donation. Talk to your colleagues and workmates. Not so long ago a young lady member showed a film about the canal during the lunch break which created so much interest that one of the directors got to hear of it and the firm made a £500 contribution to Society funds. Write to your local paper explaining why you think the canal should be restored. Recruit new members and encourage your friends to volunteer for working parties. And offer to help with some of the fund raising activities we shall be organising, next year.

By spreading the word and showing you care, you will get others interested. The snow­ball effect is surprising and the results often amazing. Everyone likes to be associated with a successful project and restoration of the canal is more than half way to being an outstanding success story. And a lasting and enjoyable benefit to thousands of people.

Please make the New Year challenge your New Year resolution.

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NOTICE is hereby given that the third Annual General Meeting of the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society Limited will be held on Saturday 8th March 1980, at St. Andrew's Hall, Frimley Green (situated next to the Mid-Southern.Water Company) commencing at 6.13pm.

Immediately following the AGIl there will be a Social evening - a buffet supper will be provided. This is optional, but the occasion will enable members to stay and have a chat. Further details in next Newsletter.

Committee nomination time is here again - closing date Saturday 12th January 1980. There are now twelve places to fill and if you would like to be more (deeply) involved in the restoration of the canal, mainly on the Administration Side, please put your name forward. New faces bring new ideas and are healthy for the Society. Our Secretary can give further information if you are uncertain of what is involved.

Nomination forms are available from the Hon. Secretary, Mrs. Lise Hamilton (address at back of Newsletter). Nominations must include the signatures of the proposer and seconder, together with confirmation of the nominee's willingness to stand.

Remember, the closing date for nomirations is 12th January, 1980
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The season has ended at last, and the John Pinkerton lies silent at Colt Hill, temporarily freed from the cries of schoolchildren, the crash of glasses, the pounding of the toilet pump, and the splatter of the ever-invading towpath mud. Now ensues a brief moment of respite for hard-working crews and harrassed administrators alike, before the commencement of the winter's maintenance activities. It is a time to gather one's wind, to indulge in a quiet appraisal of the success or otherwise of the year's trading, and for me, at least, to tell you all about it.

Well, I can hardly deny that it has been another highly successful season, counted not only in financial terms but also in respect of our service to the public. Their appreciation is evidenced by their enthusiastic comments to the crew on many occasions and by the numerous letters sent to Clive Durley from passengers of all ages. On the whole, the season has gone very smoothly, though I have to admit to moments of trauma as, for example, on the evening I discovered that, due to a power cut, it was impossible to raise the lift bridge. Fortunately the weather was fine and we were on the right side of it on other occasions the crew were not so lucky. And we have had our comic relief as well, I'm glad to say, for nothing entertains the passengers more than seeing a member of the crew go over the side - it has happened more than once. I appreciate the humour of the situation too, having watched a somewhat inebriated passenger shout, 'G'night' and disappear into the canal. It made my eyes water as well as his. Clive Durley and David Wimpenny would never forgive me if I failed to convey to you the details of the year's trading and here they are:

Total no. of journeys ....... 298 Including 206 charters, 67 public trips, 1 Nostalgic Journey, 20 Members' Evenings, and 4 free SHCS group
Total passengers carried....14,122
Total income is in excess of £14,500 and we may well show a trading profit of around £10,000. It may surprise you to learn that more than 6,300 cans of liquor, 12 gallons of spirits, and an ocean of soft drinks have been hoisted on board for consumption by the passengers, the greater part of which has subsequently been pumped off the boat again by the long-suffering members of the sanitary squad.

My personal thanks, as well as those of the other Directors of the Boat Company, go out to all of you who have participated in this highly successful undertaking, we hope you will continue to do so. I feel there is nothing mure relaxing than driving the John Pinkerton on a mellow day - fish, wildfowl, maybe dragonflies around - and an enthusiastic group of passengers on board. If, after reading this article, you feel you're missing out, come and join us next year - you're welcome.
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(1 & 2) Volunteers organised by Martin Bowers clearing the canal banks above St. John's Bridge, Woking. (Bottom) The four Job Creation Supervisors at Deepcut Lock 27 now fully restored.
(3) Frank Jones, Project Co-ordinator; Pat Bere, carpenter: Martin Smith, demolition and concrete works supervisor and Jim Reid, builder.
(4) Some of the 20 trainees who worked on Deepcut Lock 18 for a fortnight in November as a part of a course organised by the Construction Industry Trailing Board.
(7) Peter Mayne being presented with a cheque for £250 for the reconstruction of Lower Wilderness Weir at Deepcut, by Barry Ross, Regional Public Affairs Manager of Shell U.K. Ltd., sponsors of the Shell Waterways Preservation Awards Scheme, with them are: David Millett and Robin Higgs (Society) and Mike West (IWA Guildford Branch Chairman).
(5) Simon Weaves of Thames Television interviewing Robin Higgs at Deepcut for a news item about the possible Job Creation cuts, which was transmitted on November 19th.
(8) The old Norris Bridge before it collapsed.
(9) Removing the debris.
(6) Men of the Royal Corps of Transport from the Depot and Training Regiment at Buller Barracks building a 300-yard sandbag retaining wall at Great Bottom Flash.
Inside front cover (6) photograph reproduced by kind permission of 'Soldier' magazine. Other photographs by David Robinson, Dieter Jebens and Sue Maloney. Artwork by Sue Maloney.
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December 10th Christmas Social at Woking Centre Halls, 7-45pm. The final round of the Inter Canal Society Quiz will take place between the Society and the IWA (Guildford and Reading Branch).
December 19th Pub Evening, The Bounty Basingstoke.
January 5th Closing elate for nominations for the Executive Committee
January 14th 'The River Thames in all its aspects' - Illustrated talk at Woking Centre Halls, 7.45pm.
January 21st Pub evening, The Bounty, Basingstoke.
January 24th 'The Itchen Navigation' - talk by Peter Oates at the railway enthusiasts Club, 7.45pm.
February 11th 'Wey and Arun Canal, the vital link' - talk by Peter Beresford at Woking Centre Halls, 7.45pm.
February 18th Pub Evening, The Bounty, Basingstoke.
February 28th Slide evening featuring the early days of restoration, at Railway Enthusiasts Club, 7-45pm.
March 8th Annual General Meeting and Social Gathering, at St. Andrew's Hall, Frimley Green, 6-15pm.
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A public meeting was held in North Warnborough Village Hall on October 10th to explain the work programme and the effect on the local community while construction is in progress. Water levels in the canal will be lowered in the Broad Oak area to enable the footings for the new road bridge to be put in. The bridge, which will be situated 200 yards or so east of Colt Hill Bridge, will be brick faced, and trees will be planted on both sides of the canal to screen the approaches.
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A temporary bridge for contractors' plant to cross the canal is to be built west of Lodge Copse Bridge for the duration of the bypass construction work. It is anticipated thrt all necessary restrictions to navigation of the canal in the vicinity will be lifted by next April when the 'John Pinkerton' starts operating again.

It is now six years since the first Society working party on the canal, and in that time quite a lot has been done, just go and look at the canal and see for yourself. At the same time quite a lot has been learned. In the early days we didn't know much about most restoration jobs, particularly about how to restore a lock, A fair bit of prodding and probing went on at this stage, that had to be written off against experience.

But now with several locks completed we, as a Society, know much more about lock restoration. True, most of the locks have been restored largely by the Job Creation Project team, but there is a continuous exchange of ideas and information between the Job Creation supervisors and the Society's volunteer lock restorers. So when the Society urges you to come and help restore a lock, you're not expected to know exactly what to do. Just come along and there are people about who will show you how you can contribute. Alternatively, you may prefer something unskilled, like one of the Society's towpath clearance parties, and in that case just come along.

The full list of working parties is given below; it's usually best to confirm these details by phoning the leader of your working party a day or two before attending.

Every Weekend Deepcut Flight
Lock 16 on this flight continues to score "first" for volunteers, as this is the first Society volunteer lock to be given the full Deepcut restoration treatment. (Lock 25, the previous all-Society lock, didn't require anything like so much doing to it). After the completion of the first volunteer-built chamber wall, work is well under way on the first volunteer-rebuilt top cill in the new standard Deepcut manner. The concrete pipes are laid, and the apron is now being built up. This will be the last major job on this lock, leaving a string of smaller jobs like installing the top-end hollow-posts, relaying two courses of old bricks at the top of the off-side chamber wall, completing the bottom end recess walls, and replacing miscellaneous coping stones. So with a string of jobs like that, volunteers are still needed; these working parties are still rather too dependent on a few stalwart regulars, and it would be far better if the load could be spread a bit more.

A short way further up the cut is Lock 19, where this Society makes a contribution along with various visiting groups. Here both chamber walls have to be rebuilt, and one of them is now well advanced. And, of course, when these two locks are finished there'll be plenty of other nearby locks for volunteers to work on. The co-ordinator of all volunteer work on these locks is MIKE FELLOWS on Wokingham 787428, and for further information you should contact him, or one of the working party leaders listed below.

First Weekend of the month - 1/2 Dec, 5/6 Jan, 2/3 Feb - Lock 16 - PETER JONES on Aldershot 313076.
Second Weekend of the month - 8/9 Dec, 12/12 Jan, 9/10 Feb.- Lock 19 - PETER OATES (Southampton Canal Society) on Botley 3844.
Second and Fourth Sundays of the month - 9 Dec, 23 Dec, 13 Jan, 27 Jan, 10 Feb. Lock 16 - ALAN GRIMSTER on Brookwood 6127.
Third Weekend of the month - 15/16 Dec. 19/20 Jan, 16/1? Feb - Lock 16 JULES WOOD on Farnborough 515737.
Fourth Weekend of the month - 22/23 Dec, 26/27 Jan, Lock 19 - CHRIS BRAZIER on Camberley 25132.

There may also be some work on 29/30 Dec - contact Mike Fellows if you want to work that weekend. In addition, if you want to help with maintenance of the plant used on the flight, contact JIM CHISHOLM on Wokingham 785146.

Every weekend Dredging in Hampshire
The repairs to the dredger have taken longer than anticipated, but she should soon be functioning again, and restarting her eastward progress. During her spell of inaction other work has been going on, so two tugs should be available when operations restart and some work has also been done on the supporting dragline. The access point is Barley Mow Bridge, and further helpers will be welcome when dredging operations have started again. For further details contact BRIAN BANE on Hook 3627.

Every other Sunday Towpath Clearance in Surrey
2 Dec, 16 Dec, 30 Dec, 13 Jan, 27 Jan.
A lot of people have remarked that very little towpath clearance has been done in Surrey lately, and this new working party aims to rectify this omission. The party formerly working on the Ash Embankment have now finished their work there, and have moved to tackle the towpath between St. Johns and Brookwood, a stretch which anyone who has seen it will agree needs some work doing. So, if you live in the Woking and Brookwood area, and fancy a day clearing away the assorted vegetation which has inevitably re-established itself along this stretch of canal, you now have a working party to join. The work here does not require special skills and is suitable for family parties and groups of young people.

The meeting place is Brick Kiln Bridge, St. Johns, and further details may be had from MARTIN BOWERS (Farnborough 513095) or ADRIAN BIRTLES (Camberley 29897). Martin and Adrian would like to thank everyone who worked on the Ash Embankment clearance. Thanks largely to their efforts a Hymac was able to scrape away all the silt from the canal bed across the embankment in six days.

Second Weekend of the Month Lock 5 - Woodham
8/9 Dec, 12/13 Jan, 9/10 Feb.
Most of the work on the bottom cill has been done, and the lower wing walls are now being rebuilt and are well under way. Then it'll probably be decision time on what to do about the chamber walls. For further details contact PABLO HAWORTH on Byfleet 42081

Third Weekend of the Month Lock 1 - Woodham
15/16 Dec, 19/20 Jan. 16/17 Feb.
This lock continues to be a big challenge, as the water levels in this area dictate that large -amounts of water will always be trying to get into the lock chamber. This means that much of the work on Saturdays is concerned with pumping out the chamber, so that most of the real constructive work happens on Sundays. In the face of the difficulties of water everywhere, and also the local vandals, considerable progress is nevertheless being made. The top end of the lock is now complete except for the paddle culverts themselves, which must be done by a contractor, so volunteer work is now aimed at excavating and rebuilding the bottom cill, after which the chamber walls will remain to be tackled.

This party functions under the auspices of the Guildford Branch of the IWA, and for further details you should contact DICK HARPER-WHITE on Weybridge 42074 or PETER JACKMAN on Woking 72132,

Last Sunday of the month 6 Jan, 27 Jan Towpath and off-side work in Hampshire
This party continues to meet to perform various jobs that arise along the towpath and offside in Hampshire. This work does not require special skills and is suitable for family parties. Much of the work is likely to be concerned with maintaining the towpath and offside which were cleared between 1974 and 1978, and preventing Nature from reasserting herself too much where she is not wanted. Further details, including exact locations from DAVID MILLETT on Fleet 7364.

Various Weekends Lower Wilderness Weir
This is bricklaying and other rebuilding work on a smaller scale than the nearly Deepcut Flight, in a quiet setting near Lock 28. For further details contact PETER MAYNE on Camberley 24701.
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CANALS THAT NEVER WERE No. 4 1802 - 1808 - David Gerry
As interest in the branch to Bagshot declined for lack of money so the demand grew for a waterway to connect the Thames with the Solent. One suspects that when the plans for the Basingstoke Canal were being formulated, the originators really wanted to reach Southampton and, indeed, while the building of the Basingstoke Canal was in progress there was talk of extending the canal but there do not appear to have been any detailed surveys carried out, certainly I have not traced any early records. During 1802-6 interest again grew in the project. The proprietors of the Basingstoke Canal appear to have had little part in the preparations but in 1806 an engraved plan was printed and deposited with Parliament and County Authorities. Hampshire Record Office is fortunate in still having a copy. It is entitled 'A Plan Showing the Line of the London, Portsmouth and Southampton intended Canal from the Itchen Navigation, at the City of Winchester to the Wey Navigation at Godalming in the County of Surrey or to the Basingstoke Canal in the Parish of Aldershot in the County of Southampton'. It was surveyed by Michael Walker.

I strongly suspect that, in fact, the alternative route to Aldershot was very much an after-thought as the words in the title, 'or to the Basingstoke Canal' etc., were inserted by a different draughtsman from the main text of the title and the route of the Aldershot Branch was certainly not drawn in by the draughtsman who drew the route to Godalming.

For all my suspicions the plan is very accurate and has a lot of detail to tell us exactly where it was intended to go.

The intended canal left the Itchen just downstream of Wolvesy Castle. It was to run parallel and very close to the river past the City Mill (now a Youth Hostel) and round the Winchester city walls, probably just outside them and then turn towards Basingstoke passing just south of the churches at Headbourne Worthy and Kings Worthy. It then turns east along the north bank of the river Itchen between Marty Worthy Church and the river, having come through 4 locks. The navigation then climbed through two more locks and crossed the B3047 onto the line taken later by the 'Watercress' railway to Itchen Stoke and, keeping north of the river the navigation crossed the B3046 to enter Alresford Pond at its north western corner. The then Bishop of Winchester, Godfrey de Lucy founded the town of Alresford and also Alresford Pond in the last part of the twelfth century. The town was to be at the head of what he hoped would be a commercial navigation to that part of Southampton. The pond was to be a reservoir to control the flow of water in the river to make it navigable all through the year. The canal proposed in 1806 was to continue up the river Itchen with two more locks just east of Bishop Sutton, then it would cross the A31 to pass south of Ropley Dean and Ropley with four more locks where, close to Lye Wey Farm two more locks (possibly a staircase) would lift the canal to a fairly short summit pound being mainly in a tunnel.

The plan included a railway over the tunnel from Ropley Dean to Rotherfield Park, presumably to either save the expense of the tunnel or to enable trade to commence before the completion of the tunnel itself.

From Rotherfield Park the canal looped south down through two locks to cross the A32 and then turn north passing along the line taken later by the Meon Valley Railway past East Fisted and keeping south of the A32 it came to Alton and followed the present railway line crossing and recrossing the River Wey to Farnham and through another dozen or so locks. Then past Moor Park and Waverley Abbey where, for a short distance it was to use the natural river bed, and so on through 4 more locks it passed north of Elstead and Pepper Harrow crossing and recrossing and crossing the River Wey again near Upper Eashing to finally join the Godalming Navigation of the River Wey just above Godalming Bridge which I can only assume would have been rebuilt. It is not clear whether or not the numerous crossings of the River Wey would have been on the level or by aqueducts. The Branch to Aldershot (or was it to be an alternative route?) left the main line near Holt Pound to cross the River Wey and follow its north bank, near Wolley Place it crosses the A31 to enter Farnham running parallel to and behind the north side of West Street then across Castle Street into Park Row, and High Park Road to cross Hale Road and pass through the site of Farnham Hospital to skirt Badshot Lea and pass near the Aldershot Lido then across Ash Road, A323 to go through Aldershot Cumetery and the Military Cemetery to join the Basingstoke Canal just above Ash Lock.

The original intention to join our canal at Basingtoke would have been only 18 miles long instead of the 43 miles proposed at Godalming. The distance to Aldershot is not given but would probably have been about 36 miles. The shorter route to Basingstoke had had to be abandoned because of the uncertainty of water supply to the higher pounds and the costs involved in getting over the hills or through them. No indication is given as to how the summit pound between Alton and Alresford would have been supplied with water, perhaps they hoped to find copious supplies in the tunnel.

The title of the plan suggests that the intended canal would go to Portsmouth and Paul Vine mentions in 'London's Lost Route to Basingstoke' a co-lateral cut to Portsmouth but the detail of the plan gives no hint of where the branch might be so perhaps the boats for Portsmouth would have sailed down the Solent and round the coast to Portsmouth Harbour.

Much discussion took place during 1807-8 on the merits and demerits of the plan with suggestions that the estimates were all wrong and so on, but early in 1809 the proposal was abandoned. There can be little doubt that had this waterway been built it would have been a very beautiful one, and had it lived to the present day it would have been a very popular holiday cruiseway, but probably the Wey and Arun Junction Canal would then not have been built. From Farnham to Aldershot there would have been no locks and so River water would have provided extra supplies for the Basingstoke Canal Navigation, I leave you to imagine what sort of bridge might have been built in the middle of Castle Street, Farnham.
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Joint Social Secretaries: Hampshire - David Millett, Fleet 7364
Surrey - Michael Grist, Woking 71581
Meetings so far this winter have been fairly well attended and we hope this trend continues. Please take careful note of the dates and venue for the meetings at Farnborough.

FARNBOROUGH SOCIAL EVENINGS January and February meetings at the RAILWAY ENTHUSIASTS CLUB, situated on the south side of the M3 Motorway bridge over the A323 Farnborough-Reading Road. Licensed bar. sales stand, coffee and biscuits.
Thursday 24th January, 7.45pm.
Illustrated talk by PETER OATES on the ITCHEN NAVIGATION. This waterway is one of the oldest in Britain and runs from Southampton to Winchester. Peter is one of the Working Party Leaders on the Decpcut flight of locks.
Thursday 28th February, 7.45pm.
A SLIDE EVENING featuring mainly slides taken prior to the start of restoration in 1973, and during the first two years or so of restoration, i.e. Hampshire towpath clearance and the steam dredger move by road from Reading to Odiham.

WOKING SOCIAL EVENINGS A11 at Woking Centre Halls, coffee and biscuits, sales stand.
Monday, 14th January 7.45pm.
Illustrated talk by a speaker from the Thames Conservancy Division of the Thames Water Athority, featuring the 'RIVER THAMES IN ALL ITS ASPECTS'.
Monday 11th February, 7.45pm.
Ilustrated talk by PETER BERESFORD of the Wey and Arun Canal Trust, entitled 'THE WEY AND ARUN CANAL, THE VITAL LINK'. Peter will describe the history and bring us up to date with restoration progress on our neighbouring waterway.

If you have any fund raising ideas, business contacts or wish to offer your help in organising and running fund raising activities for the Society please contact:
Derek Truman, 91 Tavistock Road, Fleet, Hants. Tel. Fleet 3435.
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There is no doubt about it. The French canals are superb and make an unusual and fascinating holiday for anyone interested in waterways. We shall certainly go back again and again.

There is for a start the marked contrast with British canals. In France the. canals are invariably well maintained and have friendly keepers at most locks only too delighted to work the locks and supply you with fresh garden produce. The lack of a common language and our own hazy knowledge of French proved no problem as local people enjoyed practising their broken English and helping our faltering pronunciation. The other contrasts include the weather - the sun blazed down for almost the entire fortnight -and the excellent choice of inexpensive food. And what food! There are wines (at 40p a litre), cheeses and pates which make enjoyable picnic lunches on deck and even meals out in cafes and restaurants are both reasonable and appetising. We fed ourselves well and ate out two or three times for about £12 - £15 per head a week.

The boat we hired was a well converted nine berth ex-River Avon grain barge, the 'Pisgah' which had a large and comfortable saloon, dining room and kitchen, four double and one single berths, shower and toilet as well as acres of deck space for sunbathing. At the height of the season it cost us less than £40 a person each week and that included the services of a friendly skipper with a weakness for bacon and eggs which he fried up in his own self contained cabin separate from the main accommodation. If hirers prefer, the crew can provide breakfasts and probably lunches but these are so easy with French food it hardly seemed worthwhile to us. Nevertheless, with meals out in the evenings in reasonably priced local cafes, the boat can be used as a hotel boat if required.

Our journey of discovery began near Nevers on the Loire Lateral Canal with regular glimpses of chateaux through the trees. From Decize we joined the secretive and beautiful Canal du Mivernais climbing through cornfields and woodlands to the summit at Baye where several large lakes feed the canal. The narrow summit pound is not usually wide enough for two boats to pass but with the end of commercial traffic there - was no need to wait. We passed through a succession of limestone cuttings and short tunnels hidden away from the public gaze. Huge banks of blackberries along the summit proved irresistable. Emerging from the last of the three short tunnels we began the long descent to the River Seine at Fontainbleau through some delightful Burgundian countryside.

About a decade ago the Canal du Nivernais was threatened with closure as the small locks proved unsuitable for modern sized commercial boats. Afraid of losing their canal towns like Clamecy built luxuriously appointed showers, toilets, shaver points and baths on the canal side to encourage pleasure traffic, Now there is a light but growing interest in holidays on this canal - mostly British and Americans - and in another decade it could easily become one of the most well loved cruising grounds in Europe. So far the French have not really thought of using their canals for pleasure and still stand slightly puzzled but interested at the sight of "les anglais' using them for holidays and having a marvellous time. But it is obvious the idea interests them and it is only a matter of time before they join the overseas visitors on their own canals.

So my advice to anyone interested in waterways is to discover the French canals for yourself while they are still peaceful. They are different, stimulating, friendly and hugely enjoyable. It is a holiday I could recommend to anyone without reservations. And for less than £40 a week each - why it's cheaper than almost any holiday at home!

(If anyone is interested in the details of the boat we hired I will gladly send them the name and address of the firm we used if they will write to me, Michael Handford at 6, Spa Lane, Hinckley, Leics LE10 1JB or Studio Flat, 52 Park Street, Bristol BS1 5JN (tel 0455 611508). A stamped addressed envelope would be appreciated).
Editor's Note: Having enjoyed my first holiday on a French canal - the Canal du Midi this year I share Michael's enthusiasm. While not disputing his costs (living costs really are remarkably 'cheap'), don't forget to add on the cost of getting out there. If anyone is interested in making up a party as suggested by Michael, drop me a line and we'll put you in touch with other respondents.
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THE RAILWAY NAVVIES ( With apologies to Terry Colton)
Striking out across the barren countryside pioneering new lines of communication, living in turf huts, consuming a gallon of beer and 21bs of beefsteak every day. Surrounded by the smell and noise of gunpowder, risking death at any moment. Slaving in the bowels of the earth, the stygian gloom pierced only by candle light. All these are things of the past.

But just as essential as the spirit which1 changed the face of Britain, is the construction of a narrow gauge railway across the Blackwater Valley on the Ash Embankment. To be used for carrying materials and equipment to the site of a new weir near the county boundary, also to haul out clay for puddling; the building of this railway is the next essential step before restoration of the embankment can continue. With experience of three years building and maintenance of the Deepcut Railway we know how to do it.. What we need is people to help us and learn from us.

The work is not all humping heavy panels of track; bolting fish plates, ballasting and levelling is suitable work for female Permanent Way volunteers, the mature and the less fit. Even if you've got a bad back, but fancy some fresh air, we can use your effort.
PLEASE CONTACT Group Leaders, JOHN PEART 1 Medway Drive, Farnborough, Hants, telephone Farnborough 46554 or THE MELLERS, 101 Brankscme Hill Road, College Town, Camberley, Surrey, Telephone, Camberley 32096. You will be given dates on which your effort can be used.

Don't just 'come along' without contacting the Group Leaders first. For, although the railway is manned almost every Sunday, work to suit your ability may not be planned for the day you make a casual visit.
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(From Newsletter No. 26 November, 1969).
* The Managing Director of the New Basingstoke Canal Company Ltd., Mr. S.E. Cooke, accompanied by his solicitor, Mr. Harry D. Swales, unexpectedly attended a public meeting organised by the Society at Aldershot library on November 13th - their first and only appearance at a Society sponsored campaign meeting.

Both men remained unidentified until question time when Mr. Swales introduced himself and his client. Mr. Cooke clearly misjudged, the mood of the meeting when he warned that if the canal was restored there would, be 'boats rushing up and down'. 'Is this what you want?' he asked the packed hall. The spontaneous response from the audience was a loud cry of, 'Yes!'! * The urgent need for a quick decision rn the canal's future was stressed by a group of Committee members at the first official meetings with representatives of the two county councils held at Winchester and Kingston. The Society representatives reiterated their pledge to organise voluntary labour to assist with restoration work. * It was announced that the IWA was planning to hold the 1970 National Rally of Boats on the Wey Navigation at Guildford to focus attention on the Basingstoke Canal and the Society's campaign for public ownership and restoration. * Both Woking and Fleet Urban District Councils recommended that action be taken under the Public Health Act, as amended by the Civic Amenities Act, to tidy up the canal in their areas. * The Canal Company explained, as reported in the Woking News and Mail, why the Society was not being granted permission to work on the canal - 'because they attack us in all sorts of ways'.
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"We usually sing verses one, three and five", said the Vicar pressing a closed hymn book into my hand, "And tonight I'll ask my ladies to pray for those who restore derelict waterways". In the hope that the prayers would include those of us who lecture on the Canal I joined in the hymn singing as best I could with an unknown tune and a closed hymn book.

A member of the Bright Hour had brought along a slide projector and insisted that he should show my slides whilst I talked. This he did with great panache and a total disregard for a small technical fault with his ancient device which ejected each slide straight onto the floor. This did little for the concentration of the audience and the speaker, and even less for the condition of the slides.

A little later I was asked to talk to a local Wine Circle. All the members arrived with clinking carrier bags. The secretary asked me if I'd share a bottle with him. Savouring the thought of sipping Mouton de Rothschild '47 I eagerly accepted his kind offer. He carefully poured out half a glass of beer from a bottle he took from the top of the blazing gas fire. "It's home made," he said with pride. "It's very nice", I lied through clenched teeth and a slightly burnt tongue. The lecture was a great success even though most of the audience were well into their third battle before I even started. Perhaps that was why it was a -great success.....

There is always at least one person in every audience who knows far more about the subject than the guest speaker. I was once asked, "Is it true that a lock gate should never be opened until the grunion screw is fully raised on the locking collar joint?" With the total confidence of the truly ignorant I snapped, "Quite true - next question please". The next question I could at least understand - a lady asked, "What happened to all the crayfish that used to be in the Canal before the war?". "To the best of my knowledge, madam, they have unfortunately gone off", I replied--without fear of contradiction.

An increasing number of schools are doing projects on the Canal and I have very much enjoyed talking to them about the history and restoration progress. Children listen with great interest and ask very intelligent and carefully thought out questions. They also write me little 'thank you' letters which are a joy to receive. One nine year old told me "....I liked, your talk about, the canal. I'd like to help you dig it out but my Wellingtons leak....." Another boy in the same class wrote "....thank you for coming to talk to us about the canal. I liked the slides best. I had to go to the dentist half way through but I don't suppose I missed much".

This was by no means my first unintentioned insult. The very first talk on the Canal I gave was listened to with intense interest by a large group of ladies. Their applause at the end was generous and I relaxed with a warm glow of self satisfaction. There was only one question from the floor. "What exactly do you do for a living?" asked a lady in an improbable hat.

On one memorable occasion when I arrived at the appointed time in the middle of a W.I. meeting, the president warmly welcomed, me and said, "Would you like to start your talk now or shall I let them enjoy themselves for a few minutes more?"

So when you settle down on a freezing cold night in front of the television and a roaring fire just remember the Society's speakers setting off into the wilds to spread the word and encourage interest in the restoration of their Canal. You may think this is a more pleasant way of helping than standing up to the waist in mud clearing a bridge hole - but then you've probably never had to drink home made beer served at blood heat. And my Wellingtons leak too.
Editor's Note: Thank you, Paul and all our lecturers who 'spread the word.' Pauline Hadlow, the Society's Talks Organiser tells us that the Society also benefits from the sales you make and in recruiting new members. If anyone belongs to an organisation qhich would like a Society speaker, then contact Pauline on Camberley 28367.
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SUCCESSFUL Autumn Sale held at Byfleet Village Hall raised just over £200. Thanks to the 20 members who manned the stalls and the Barker-cum-Town Crier who attracted the locals to the Sale.
SHELL (UK LTD) have awarded £250 to the Society to rebuild Lower uilderness weir and to the IWA (Guildford. Branch) towards the restoration of Lock 1 - £400.
FOR SALE: 12' Wooden dinghy with road trailer, needs some attention, convenient waterside storage, £125 o.n.o. Mr. S. Chapple, 17 Great Godwin Drive, Merrow, Guildford GU1 2TX. Tel: Guildford 60917.
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The proceeds from a Guess-the-Mileage competition, with a Leyland Allegro 1300 Super as the prize are being donated to the Society by Star Newspapers (Camberley) Ltd., organisers of the Motor Show held at Rushmoor Arena in September.

A few days before the event the Star editor, Leon Reis, made the Society the offer providing we supplied, the ticket sellers during the weekend event, following a marathon phone-round by Rosemary and David Millett, 55 members volunteered and as a result of their efforts the Society expects to receive over £225. Our grateful thanks to the Star, and to the sales force.

David Gay's sales stand, assisted by Joyce and Phil Pratt with our exhibition unit, recruited some new members and made £95 worth of sales.


Published by the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society Limited, a non-profit making distributing company limited by guarantee.
Editor: Dieter Jebens, Assistant Editors: Natalie and Peter Jones.
Production: Diana Snow and David Wimpenny.
Collation and Distribution: Janet and George Hcdger and helpers.
Editorial Office: 75 Middle Bourne Lane, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 3NJ. Tel: Farnham 715230.
Chairman: Robin Higgs, 18 Barnsford Crescent, West End, Woking. (Tel: Chobham 7314)
Vice Chairman: David Millett, 14 Dinorben Close, Fleet, Hants, (Tel: Fleet 7364)
Treasurer: Bryan Jones, 16 Bliss Close, basingstoke, Hants, (Tel: Basingstoke 61053)
Secretary: Mrs. Lise Hamilton, 2 Frome Close, Cove, Farnborough, Hants. (Tel: Farnborough 49651)
Membership Secretary: Alan Babister, 31 Elmsleigh Road, Cove, Farnborough. (Tel: Farnborough 46147)
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Last updated April 2005